Professional issues: fee arrangements
- How much are you going to charge?
- Will you ask for payment in advance?
- What if your client cancels, or doesn’t turn up?
- Will you offer pro bono sessions?
- What about discounts?
If you’re just starting out, you may be wondering how much you should charge for your time, in order to cover your costs and make a profit. If so, have a look at our article on pricing.
Once you have an idea of how much to charge, there are a number of other issues to consider...
Whether you display pricing on your website is up to you, but make sure you have a clear pricing structure that you can send to any potential clients upon request. This will demonstrate your professionalism and remind clients that they are paying for a service.
Once you’ve decided how much you’re going to charge for a session, think about the following:
- will you offer a discounted price for the initial assessment, or a free assessment?
- will you offer a package price if a client books several sessions? This will, naturally, depend on the type of service you are offering
- what’s the lowest price that you will be prepared to offer?
But what if my client can’t afford my fees?
It’s entirely up to you whether you offer discounts depending on your clients’ personal circumstances. But that shouldn’t stop you having a clear pricing policy from the outset, even if you do offer a discount.
Cancellations and no shows
Decide how you will deal with cancellations or no shows. Many therapists will accept cancellations up to the day before the treatment, without charge. Others will charge a proportion of the fee, for example 50%. Your decision will depend upon the demand for your services and the potential financial effect of a cancellation or no show.
Once you have a policy, you can be generous in being flexible, for example if you feel it would be better to waive or reduce your fee.
Some therapists will specifically allocate a set number of hours or sessions per month for pro-bono work. If you’d like to do the same, make sure you keep your pro-bono work to a reasonable amount - your time is valuable and you must think about covering your costs. You’ll also find that the non-clinical work in running a private practice takes up more time than you think!
Change in client circumstances
If you have a regular client, but their circumstances change, it is always best to try to ensure continuity of care. You could offer a temporary concession, to be reviewed at a later date. Make sure you carefully consider whether you can afford a concession - in some cases, referring your client elsewhere will be unavoidable.
We’d recommend collecting payment from clients at the end of every session, where possible. Alternatively, it may be more convenient to invoice at the end of each month. In some cases, for example if you are collecting payment from rehabilitation companies or solicitors, you will have to provide 30, 60 or even 90 day terms. You’ll soon come to realise that the sooner you get paid, the better.
The most important thing you need to do...
Whatever you decide about your fees, and whatever policies you set about cancellations, collecting payment, and so on, the one thing you need to remember is this: make things clear from the start in your terms and conditions.